A captivating and complicated coming-of-age tale for fans of surprising heroines.



A novel follows a young mother who is forced to grow up when her husband abruptly abandons her.

Young, beautiful, and sheltered Shelby Carpenter is married to a successful Hollywood stuntman. The book opens as Shelby and her husband, Boyd, mingle with other Tinseltown hotshots at a lavish party in Los Angeles. An attractive and assertive divorcée offers to take Boyd on a tour of the grounds, whereupon he excuses himself from the company of his wife, never to be seen again. Shelby cannot believe that she has been left so suddenly and brazenly by her husband of more than half a decade, but after three long days with no word from Boyd, she begins to accept the truth. She is soon informed by mutual acquaintances that Boyd went to Kenya with his new girlfriend, and before she knows it, she has received divorce papers from his attorney. With no job and very little life experience, Shelby is left to fend for herself and her 8-year-old daughter, Pamela, on her own. Motivated by the responsibility she feels for her daughter, Shelby finds positions as a cocktail waitress and an administrative assistant in a corporate office. As she learns to stand on her own, Shelby meets three men who appeal to different aspects of her personality. Each of the three provides Shelby with emotional support during her most turbulent times as well as varying levels of distraction and sexual fulfillment. Formerly writing under the name MK Landstein, Mitchell (Wasted…Maybe, 2013, etc.) delivers a complex heroine. As the appealing story progresses, Shelby’s feelings for each of the three suitors evolve, along with her sentiments about herself. Throughout the novel, the author provides insightful and compassionate details about the difficulties of single motherhood (“All along she knew she would not allow anything to interfere with Pamela’s world, her self-image and security. Shelby knew she would have to climb out of this hole step by step”). Mitchell also shows how Shelby’s lovely face and friendly demeanor can often function as more of a curse than a blessing. There are many intricate subplots that weave their ways throughout the larger story, rounding out the richness of the narrative. 

A captivating and complicated coming-of-age tale for fans of surprising heroines. 

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4575-4413-2

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2016

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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